Eliminating the Non-Contenders in the Breeders’ Cup

Profile Picture: Derek Simon

Derek Simon

October 25th, 2013

If you’re like me, handicapping the Breeders’ Cup races is like judging the Miss Universe Pageant. Ultimately, all the contestants are above average in the looks department, they all want world peace and they all seem incredibly happy.
In other words, as is the case with the Breeders' Cup events, there are few, if any, glaring toss-outs.
Yet, unless one’s betting strategy entails wagering on every horse in every Breeders’ Cup race — which has produced a surprisingly decent -5.2 percent ROI since 1997, by the way — one must find a way to eliminate certain entrants... without any weeping and/or gnashing of teeth.
Well, like Billy Swan, I can help.
Using my database of BC results from 1997 to 2012, I found some angles that one can use to instantly eliminate horses from further consideration, thereby saving time and aspirin:
1. Discard any horse that last raced on a dirt or all-weather surface if today’s race is on turf or that raced over the grass surface if today’s race is on the dirt.
The Stats (since 1997): Six winners in 161 attempts, with a 0.44 impact value (IV) and a 0.56 odds-based impact value (OBIV).
2. In routes (races of one mile or greater), toss any horse that last competed at six furlongs or less.
The Stats: Two winners in 33 attempts (including Beholder last year), with a 0.68 IV and a 0.64 OBIV.
3. Eliminate any horse with a median late speed ration (LSR) of -20 or less*.

The Stats: Zero winners in 34 attempts.
4. Reject any horse whose last-race form rating was less than 20 percent*.

The Stats: Four winners in 119 attempts, 0.39 IV and a 0.59 OBIV.
5. Toss any horse trained by Aidan O’Brien that is running on dirt.
The Stats: This is no knock on O’Brien, whose overall BC record is impeccable (seven winners in 81 tries with a 1.01 IV). However, there is a clear distinction between the veteran conditioner’s starters on dirt (0.41 IV, 0.39 OBIV) and his starters on all-weather or turf (1.34 IV, 0.75 OBIV).
6. In the juvenile turf events, don’t consider any horse with a Brisnet Turf Pedigree rating** of less than 110.
The Stats: One winner (Maram, 2008 Juvenile Fillies Turf) in 59 tries, with a 0.22 IV and a 0.24 OBIV.
7. In dirt races, avoid win bets on horses with an “S” style rating** (these types do finish in the money a fair amount of the time).
The Stats: Seven winners in 138 attempts, 0.59 IV, 0.57 OBIV.

Hopefully this will help you avoid a few losers and reduce your handicapping time on Breeders’ Cup Day.
For more great stats like the ones above, be sure to check out my 2013 Breeders’ Cup Betting Guide available at and my 2013 Breeders’ Cup Trainers Guide available at

* This number can be found in my Pace Profile Report available prior to the Breeders’ Cup via or
** This rating can be found in the Brisnet past performances available at